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Ovid (2709)

Ovid
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Stuff with the Perl Foundation. A couple of patches in the Perl core. A few CPAN modules. That about sums it up.

Journal of Ovid (2709)

Sunday April 30, 2006
10:57 AM

Don't Do This!

[ #29479 ]

It really annoys me when I come to a Web form and the drop-down for US states reads: "AL", "AK", "AS", "AZ", "AR", and so on. How many people can really tell, without looking it up, what "MH" stands for? (Marshall Islands).

If your drown-down consists of the abbreviations, you have problems. First, you're lazy. That doesn't bode well when I think about how much effort you may have put into security. More and more I've learned, if it looks amateurish, it probably is. Lack of pride and lack of quality frequently go hand in hand.

The programmer in question might argue "so what? Everyone knows their own state abbreviation." When I type an "O" into such a drop down, "OH" and "OK" come up before "OR". It's much easier for me to notice when a drop-down says "Ohio" or "Oklahoma" instead of "Oregon". In other words, it makes it easier for me to find and correct mistakes. However, that still doesn't take into account the fact that it may not be my state. What if it's a "ship-to" address? Puzzling through the list can get awfully annoying.

Of course, it's possible they have good state detection via zip codes, but it still doesn't fix the last problem: it's just plain ugly. Please folks, take a few minutes to get this right. You'll be glad you did.

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  • I feel the same way about the Month part of credit card expirations/forms that use month names. How many cards have the month spelled out? None I'd wager.
  • I find forms that ask me for a state with a drop down pretty confusing, period, not being in the US. How do you type in "East Sussex" into that select box again?

    -Dom

  • There are eight states in the US whose names start with the letter "M". Can you name them all with their two-letter abbreviations?

    Without going to http://en.wikipedia.org/ [wikipedia.org] or some such, of course.

    • Do you want the fips codes, too? It's really sad when you can spout off fips codes as easily as abbreviations. Occupational hazard, I guess.
      • For the 8 states abbrevs, I'll guess MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, and MT.

        For the 8 FIPS codes, I'll guess M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, M6, M7 and M8. :-)
  • Another question is: how many of your users are from AD (Andorra), AE (United Arab Emirates) or AF (Afghanistan), to name the first three?

    I'd like it even better if those dropdowns defaulted to the top 10 or 20 countries of the user base, with a way to enter your own country if it's not in the list. And add some karma points if it defaults to the countries that can be deduced from the language[_territory] information given in Accept-Language.